Will legalizing marijuana improve the racial gap in arrests?

Just yesterday I saw a story relating to police bias against black people. On top of that, I also saw an article arguing for the legalization of marijuana. Two of the most controversial topics in America right now are whether marijuana should be legalized, as well as this racial bias against black people. To my surprise, the two topics in a way went hand in hand with each other. How can the legalization of marijuana improve the racial bias problem within America? The null hypothesis is that legalizing marijuana will not improve racial bias against blacks while the alternative hypothesis would be that legalizing marijuana will improve racial bias against blacks. There is clear cut evidence to prove that alternative hypothesis is likely, and here’s why:new-generic-police-lights-1-759x500-1

For starters, marijuana is classified as a schedule one drug along with LSD and heroin. I have never experienced either of those two drugs, but there is no doubt marijuana should be classified in a different category as them. If marijuana is federally classified this dangerously, the police who patrol the law must take any crimes involving marijuana very seriously. Here is an article that talks about the staggering amount of non-violent marijuana arrests outweighing the amount of arrests for violent crimes. Obviously, if there is such a significant amount of arrests due to marijuana, there is likely need for change.

Such a significant amount of people use marijuana for recreational purposes. In particular, white and black people both use marijuana equally. According to this article, it is a fact that blacks are four more times more likely to get arrested for marijuana in America! This data was very surprising to me, and it made me wonder what legalization could do for not only America but the black community as well.

The legalization would mean that crime rates would be cut in half, and people will no longer be at risk of damaging their future for using this drug. Being charged for marijuana possession can result in many different things. Those that are lucky enough to get these charges taken off their record by community service and the paying of fines will not be impacted long term. Those who can not afford the fines or are not given the opportunity to remove it from their record will see an increase in difficulty getting jobs, public benefits, and even housing. The occasional case may even result in jail time. All these negatives for a drug already legal in eight states make little sense. Unfortunately, the black community is being impacted the most by this situation. The black community is receiving these charges four times as much as white communities. These charges lead to major setbacks in life, leading to an overwhelmingly larger pool of black people suffering from these charges than whites.

In this study, it is found that although there is a large decrease of marijuana crimes in states that have legalized the drug, the racial gap remains the same. Black people still are four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana charges as a white person, advocating for the null hypothesis.map1

After researching the two topics, legalizing marijuana has its benefits by decreasing the number of drug-possession arrests. More importantly, the racial gap remained the same in these states. This supports the null hypothesis that legalizing marijuana will not change the gap between a larger amount of blacks getting arrested than whites. Unfortunately, this bias can’t be understood fully by Americans because there is not yet an understanding as to why the black community has a much higher risk than the white community at being arrested for marijuana. It can be noted that legalizing marijuana will not result in changing this problem, and there is furthermore research to be done to figure out where this bias is coming from.


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1 thought on “Will legalizing marijuana improve the racial gap in arrests?

  1. Theodore Andrew Ochieng

    This was a good blog. I agree with you that marijuana should not be classified in the same category as LSD and and heroin particularly because of the health benefits associated with marijuana. I also like how you tackled a sensitive topic and did not just dismiss it as ‘those are bad people’ but instead explored why opportunities disappear for them and how legalization could help (though not entirely) reduce the disappearance of opportunities to advance one’s life.

    Other countries have legalized all marijuana, among other drugs however it would be interesting to explore racial attitudes in those countries compared to the United States.

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